RJD2 + Nature Boy=

I just found out this week that the Mad Men theme song was written by one of my favorite artists, RJD2. The song is called A Beautiful Mind from his Magnificent City Instrumentals album, which I actually haven’t heard. I myself am partial to his Deadringer album.

If you read my last post, you might suspect that I’m a little obsessed with the Nature Boy song. That would be correct. I’m the kind of person that, when I hear a song I really like, I like to listen to it over and over and over again. My husband hates this because he feels like it ruins the song. That may be true for him, but I can’t help myself. It’s like crack for me. A healthy, non-life ruining crack, but still.

As you can read for yourself on the YouTube page for this video, they combined the lyrics to Nature Boy with A Beautiful Mind, and this was the result. And all filmed in one take, no auto-tune. Pretty impressive, I think.

Posted in Music, Things I Love | Leave a comment

When a song gives you the chills.

You have to post it on your blog.

This is a cover of the song Nature Boy performed by Pamplamousse, who I just discovered on YouTube.

This song was originally made famous by Nat King Cole’s performance, but it was written by eden ahbez.

I’d never heard this song until this week, but now I can’t stop listening to it, especially this particular performance .

Check out how the pianist uses his fingers to pluck the piano strings towards the end.

I think this duo is just amazing. Check ‘em out.

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Pretties for our shampoo box.

Our guest bathroom renovation is finished. Actually, there are still some finishing touches that need to be done, but it’s done enough for guests. And guests are exactly the reason why I’ve been too busy to take pictures yet. But it’s on my weekend to-do list, so I’m hoping to post them next week!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the prettily packaged products that I found when I did some looking around online. We very tediously tiled our shampoo box (which I kept calling our window box the whole time we were tiling – word retrieval’s hard for me!) during our bathroom renovation and wanted something nice to display. Oh, and P.S., the alliteration in this paragraph was completely unintentional and I actually kind of found it irritating, but I’m leaving it. Forgive moi.

Here are a few pretty – and unisex – items from Bath and Body works:

C.O. Bigelow “Not Your Ordinary” Daily Shampoo – $12

MOP Lemongrass Shampoo – $14

Aromatherapy Body and Shine Shampoo – $10

MOP C-Straight Smoothing Shampoo – $16

And here are a couple more sweet and simple items from Philosophy:

Inner Grace shampoo, bath and shower gel – $34.50 - I love that it’s two for one!

Pure Grace shampoo – $22

Pure Grace conditioner – $21

I think I’d be happy with pretty much any of these products, looks wise at least. But after thinking about it, reality set it. We just spent a few thousand over several months on our bathroom. So I decided to go frugal for now.

We already had one bottle of shampoo that I had bought and never used. And the green in the bottle matched the art we hung. So I got a matching conditioner and shower gel that I also had and here’s what I ended up with (for now):

Avalon Organics Shampoo and Conditioner (image source linked, but I got mine at Whole Foods)

Ivory body wash in Simply Ivory Aloe (image source linked, but I got mine at the grocery store)

Even though we didn’t buy anything, it was worth the look around though because now I know what’s out there for next time. Plus I got to share it with all ya’ll.

Also, it made me realize that I never, ever buy beauty products based on how they look. So, I think I’ll do an upcoming post on how I do make my beauty product decisions. Till then!

Posted in Bathroom renovation, Beauty products | Leave a comment

Are you kidding me?

This puppy is not. He is dead serious about killing me with adorables. The don’t call it cuteoverload.com for nothing!

I needed to share this.

Because if not here, then where?

Posted in The Cute, Things I Love | Leave a comment

Walnut furniture love.

A little while back, I discovered some really sweet walnut furniture on this little Etsy shop. More recently, I started to notice that walnut furniture seems to be popping up all over the place. Has everyone already noticed and I am the last one? No matter. I’ve noticed. And I am liking what I’m seeing.

Sometime soon, we will need some new storage for Chet’s office, so we started looking around at credenzas/sideboards. We came across a couple on the Room and Board website and I really started lusting after the walnut versions. Like this one:

And this one:

Just the same week that I began coveting the above, we went shopping at Crate and Barrel for the first time in a long time. That’s when we happened upon this little beauty:

We do not need a desk. Not at all. But I felt this gem needed to be shared even though this photo really does not do it justice. The wood itself is so much more beautiful in person.

And, finally, although not exactly furniture, the following does maintain the walnut theme of this post. I had seen this Limited Edition Eames Hang-It-All in the Design Within Reach catalog a while back. But I didn’t realize until I saw it over at Door Sixteen that it was also made with walnut.

Pretty, non?

So here’s the thing. During my big realization about how much I love the walnut, I also happened to notice the prices. It’s not the least expensive wood around (you can read more about why here). And since we totally cannot afford either one of those lovely Room and Board credenzas right now, Chet mentioned that he might want to try and make something similar. But we were wondering how much we’d save because it seems like the materials might still be quite expensive. More research needed there. But in the meantime I thought I’d go ahead and share my new found fascination with this gorgeous wood.

Image credits and links:

1. Hudson Wood Base Media Cabinet from Room and Board, $2099

2. Anders Media Cabinet from Room and Board, $3799

3. Ainsworth Walnut Desk from Crate and Barrel, $1299

4. Eames Hang-It-All from Design Within Reach, $249

Posted in Home, Inspiration, Office, Things I Love | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living Room: filling in the empty space.

The picture below shows an area in our house that I’ve been calling our Living Room, but I’m not sure that’s really accurate. It’s really an odd space.

The reason I say it’s odd is because 1) it’s right off of our kitchen and 2)  it’s very long and narrow. Our dining room table takes up about a third of the space because it’s the best spot for it in the house. But the rest of the room, as you can see, is totally empty of any decoration and has been for the 4 years we’ve lived here.

About two years ago, we pulled our family room sofa in here to see how it would look. We loved it. So we started casually looking around at sofas and really fell in love with the Lounge sofa from Crate and Barrel. Earlier this year, I came up with this mood board which included that very sofa. (You can see the source info for all items here.)

We’d pretty much decided that the Lounge was the couch for us and were just waiting until we could afford it. Crate and Barrel usually has some kind of fabric sale in the Fall, and I was kind of holding out until then.

When we found out last month that it was going on sale, we stopped by the store to check it out again and realized a couple things we actually didn’t love so much. It’s super duper deep, which is perfect for my tall husband but is kind of awkward for my smallish self. It is very cozy though and I think I still could have been convinced, but then, we got a fabric swatch and realized that it has kind of a greenish tinge. We had both always pictured it as more yellow, but the swatch we got was just not what we had imagined. That sort of killed it for me. The final decision was made when we accepted the fact that, even at the sale price, we just couldn’t quite afford it yet.

Enter the West Elm sofa sale that I found out about not long after. I was a little hesitant because I was nervous about the quality. Part of me does think it’s worth it to hold out for the best couch that you can afford. But, I really liked the look of their Goodwin couch, I loved the color selection, and I really loved the prices. The sale price for the 88 inch Grand Sofa was $669 (normally $899). That’s half of what the Lounge would have cost. Interest = peaked.

Luckily, we have a West Elm nearby so we were able to go check it out in person. And to make a long story short, we ended up deciding to buy it! The good news: after tax, shipping, and delivery the total cost was $862.74. Less than the regular price! The bad news: 8-10 weeks for delivery. Ouch!

But with my recently acquired mood boarding skills, I was able to whip up this little ditty to tide me over till I can see it in person.

I added in a few other items from West Elm that we noticed and loved while we were in the store, plus the Expedit bookcase from Ikea. The plan is to move our Expedit bookcase from Chet’s office into the Living Room and buy another one to match.

Links and sources (clockwise from top left):

1. Expedit bookcase from Ikea
2. Globe pendant from West Elm
3. Slipper chair from West Elm
4. Sliding-top coffee table from West Elm
5. Goodwin sofa (in Dove Gray) from West Elm

Also, I want to share some other possibly helpful info. We got a West Elm credit card when we bought a mirror for our bathroom a few months ago. I was totally regretting it the minute I walked out the door because I was afraid it was just another thing to keep track of. But it’s actually turned out to be fantastic. For every $250 you spend, they’ll give you $25 back as a gift card to spend in the store. If you have any plans at all to buy more from West Elm down the road, I highly recommend it. We used our first $25 towards the purchase of our couch, and now we’ll be getting back another $100 or so after buying the couch and a few other items recently. I’m really loving the chairs and coffee table and think they would pull this room together really nicely. So that $100 will really come in handy. Keep in mind, these cards do expire within about 3 months, so I really only recommend it if you do think you’ll be buying something else soon. Works perfectly for the two of us who don’t buy everything at once and take our time making decisions like these.

Here’s the breakdown on the cost of the couch:

Goodwin Grand Sofa
in Performance Velvet
Dove Gray:                         $669
Delivery charges:            $100
Shipping and
Processing charges:        $66.90
Tax:                                       $48.84
Gift card:                           -$25
Grand total:                       $862.74

And in case you were interested, here are my estimates of what the Lounge sofa would have cost:

Lounge sofa (on sale):   $1269
Shipping (estimated):    $79
Tax (estimate):                 $92.64
Grand total (estimate):  $1440.64

Almost $600 less, not to mention the $100 we’ll get back on a gift card. That’s about the cost of one of the chairs plus the coffee table. What remains to be seen: whether or not the quality surpasses the quantity. I’ll try to do an update down the road after we have some time to break it in a little. But if you’re seeing this 6 months from now and want to know, leave me a note in the comments.

Posted in Bargains, GIMP, Home, Living Room, Mood boards | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

Starting to remember.

I mentioned in my last post that I recently took a telecourse on finding your passion.  During the second class, I had an epiphany. I realized that what I really needed in order to find my passion was to play. The instructor of the course provided us with some worksheets and when glancing through them I saw that she had listed a book called The Gift of Play: Why Women Stop Playing and How to Start Again by Barbara Brannen. As soon as I saw the title, I knew I needed to read it right away. I wanted to find out more about playing as soon as possible!

I feel kind of silly writing that now. I mean, how can a grown woman need to learn how to play? (That’s kind of what I’d like to explore in much more detail over time). But the truth is, I have forgotten. And I don’t think I’m alone, thank goodness. That’s why Ms. Brannen wrote this book. I wanted to purchase it immediately, but I actually had a bit of trouble tracking it down from a library (always my first choice) or even a brick and mortar store. I called all the nearby places but no luck. I had to order it on Amazon and wait a week or so.

The good news was, thanks to Google Books, I was able to read the first several chapters online while I waited for it to arrive. The author begins by describing some of her earliest play experiences. She grew up in a rural environment and loved to play outside. While reading her descriptions of outdoor play, I immediately started having memories of things that I loved doing as a child. And what I remembered both surprised me and inspired me.

The surprising part was how much all the outdoorsy, nature type activities she described really struck a chord with me. These kinds of memories aren’t usually what I think about when I remember my childhood. I’ve always thought of myself as a bookworm and my family members think of me that way too. But what I’ve realized is that reading books aren’t at all a part of my most vivid childhood memories. What has really stuck with me and what made my heart sing (one of the key ingredients to knowing what is real play for you, according to Brannen) were my outdoor adventures.

I remember riding bikes in my neighborhood all day. And I remember playing near a pond in my suburban neighborhood and catching tadpoles and weeks later waking up to find hundreds upon hundreds of frogs all over our driveway and up and down the street. I was amazed and fascinated. It felt magical. I remember exploring the woods near a relative’s house where you could swing on vines dangling from the trees. And one of my absolute favorite memories is of a summer trip to Wisconsin. I fell in love with the state on that trip, and I never really knew why. I now realize it was the adventure of exploring a new outdoor world. My family and I wandered through old barns and walked through fields of growing summer vegetables. At a relative’s house we ate peas and raspberries right off the vines and ate dinner outside while the sun set. These are just a few of my favorite play memories that erupted out of nowhere and left me feeling absolutely inspired.

How about you? Do any of my memories strike a chord with you? What made you feel joyful as a child? I’d love to know.

Photo credits: all taken by me of my three favorite kids doing what comes naturally.

Posted in Finding your passion, Inspiration, Play, Things I Love | Leave a comment

The missing puzzle piece to figuring out my passion.

I think I figured out one of, if not the, missing puzzle piece to finding my passion. And I think it might involve something so simple that it comes naturally to children but most of us stop doing it little by little as we get older. Can you guess what it is?

Let me back up a little and first tell you this. I’ve been trying for more than 15 years to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And what I realized in the past few weeks is that I’ve been going about it completely backwards.

My approach up until now has been this: look into job titles, see what seems to match my personality and interests, and then try it out in whatever way possible. I’ve always believed in the saying, do what you love and the money will follow. I never purposely ignored my passion in pursuit of money or what I thought I should do. But no matter what I’ve tried, I just haven’t found that one thing that I really want to do with my life.

Even after  a lot of disappointment when various career paths I chose didn’t turn out to be the right ones for me, I didn’t give up my active search. And here’s where I think I really went wrong. I thought by searching “out there,” eventually I’d come across my passion. I think it probably just took me further away.

Here’s a story that will finally explain where I’m going with all this. A life coach was meeting with her client, and this client sounded just like me (but it wasn’t, I promise!). Her goal was to find her passion in life and she was reaching and desperately grasping to figure out her thing. But the coach and client weren’t getting anywhere. So the coach finally assigned her the task to just play. That was her assignment – to play as much as possible. And after doing that for several weeks, they met again. This time, the coach told her to imagine what her dream home would look like when she had her dream career. And out of nowhere the client blurted out, “Music Therapist!”

As soon as I heard this story, I had an epiphany. And it had nothing to do with wanting to be a Music Therapist. What I realized was that the key ingredient to finding my passion is PLAY!

It seems so simple. Figure out what you love to do by playing! I think this concept was hovering just below the surface for me now that I look back on it. Hearing this story made me finally consciously realize that I was not going to figure out my path by researching careers online, or reading yet another career book, or by any other method of grasping.

All this time I thought I could figure it out using my left brain skills and moving along a logical path. But I think I would have been better off this whole time just playing.

So what does all this mean? How exactly will playing help me (or you?) find my passion. That’s what I’m figuring out right now. And I plan to share more with you as I move along on my playful path.

Photos all taken by me (except the last one where I’m wearing a cactus hat) on my iPhone Hipstamatic app (which happens to be one of my favorite play activities) during my first weekend consciously dedicated to playing as much as possible.

Posted in Career, Finding your passion, Play | Leave a comment

Subway tile + grout = satisfied homeowners.

As promised, I’m finally back with more pictures of our newly tiled shower stall with subway tiles and grout. You can see the pre-grout post here. And here’s how they look now.

Grouting was much, much easier than tiling. It took just a few hours one weekend day, and it was very satisfying. We used a non-sanded grout and the gooey texture made the smearing and smooshing kind of fun. Much more fun than the thinset used to lay the tile. I started off this project and then Chet finished when I got tired, so we both got a chance to get a good feel for this task. I’ve heard grouting can be quite difficult. I’m guessing this applies more to large grout lines. This was pretty easy peasy.

It’s hard to get a good shot of the window directly, but I thought I’d share this photo anyway to show what it looks like out the window now.

If you want to see what we started with, check this post out or click on Bathroom renovation in the categories on the upper right (or just at the bottom of this post). We’re getting super, duper close to finishing our bathroom for reals, and I’ll definitely be posting the “after” pictures once it’s all done.

Posted in Bathroom renovation, DIY, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bathroom tiling progress pics

Hello there! I’m back with a long overdue update on our bathroom renovation progress! We took quite the hiatus actually over the past month. I think we both really needed a break after the labor intensive tiling job. To put it politely, tiling a large-ish area is a great test of all kinds of marital relationship skills, especially those of the communication variety.

It’s kind of like the Amazing Race. As much as I want to deny it, we were more like the annoying couple who you just want to stop fighting already than we are the cool hippie couple you root for because they’re just so chill with the attitude of,  hey, we’re just here to have fun. I wish I could say that was us. But alas, it was not.

As I’ve told a couple people, we are NO match for Young House Love, who gave us our initial inspiration for this whole project. They make it seem so…easy. I really want to be encouraging of other people who want to try tiling for the first time. We wouldn’t have done it without the advice and encouragement of some awesome bloggers.

But I also think it’s important to be honest. It’s easy to get excited about a project, but once the reality sets it, I think it can also be motivating to know that there are others who get tired. And lose motivation. And take much, much longer than other speedy and seemingly tireless DIYers.

So I’m gonna be honest. It wasn’t easy. Not for us anyway. Here are some progress pics to give you a bit of a timeline.

I took this photo on April 10th:

First we measured, remeasured, measured again. Then, when we thought we had the perfect starting point, we  screwed in that board there around the tub at just the right spot. Well, as it turned out, not so much.

The next picture was also taken on April 10th and it was as far as we got on our first day of tiling:

At this point, we could easily see that all our measuring had been for, um, nothing because the tiles were not going to line up evenly with the bottom or the top of the the window. Which of course was exactly the MAJOR pain in the arse we had tried to avoid.

Here we go with Day 2 on April 11th: At this point we were still highly optimistic that we might have the bathroom usable before my friend came into town a couple weeks later. Well, it’s the end of July as I write this and we still have no toilet or vanity in the room. However, our optimism kept us forging ahead at the time, thank God.

Looks good right? Well, if you don’t think so, please don’t tell me, because it was a semi-hellish experience. Truly. Just take a look at those tiny tiles up top and if you know anything about the laws of gravity, you may begin to understand why it was torture. I won’t go in to all the details, but that was just a smidge of what made tiling around the window so difficult.

Okay, moving on. This first full weekend of tiling mainly taught us that we couldn’t work on tiling both days of the weekend because we were way too tired all the next week at work. I felt ill the whole next week and thought my eyes would close at any moment while at my work computer which is NOT like me. Keep in mind though, we aren’t the highest energy people you’ve ever met. The main point is that after that first weekend we only worked on tiling one weekend day, all day long, at the very most. So, here we are on May 29th after having finally finished tiling (no grout yet!) the entire shower surround:

Let me just mention here that the shampoo box you see below, although not as hard as the window, was also a doozy.

I will say, it felt pretty glorious to finish (even though we still needed to grout). I made lots of errors at the beginning of the first wall, but by the final wall, I really had a system and feel for how to get the tiles very even. I guess the true test is if they stay adhered to the wall for a few years.

I was going to finish this and show the post-grout pictures too, but I guess I’ll wait since my posts are probably way longer than necessary. So I’ll just sum it up by answering the question, would I do it again? Well, yes and no. Yes, I would do it again for the first time because it’s something I always had wanted to try. Would I did it again now? No. And that means we’re gonna probably hire someone to do the floor.

I’m truly not trying to scare anyone away from doing their own projects because there is definitely a certain satisfaction that comes from that process.  But I also wanted to share my honest experience in the reality of how it all went down for us. So tell me. Was the honesty encouraging or discouraging?

Up next…tile with grout. Exciting!

Posted in Bathroom renovation, DIY, Home | Tagged , | Leave a comment